The University of Melbourne
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E: encounters, ecologies, and ethics

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posted on 2023-10-31, 10:33 authored by Angela Molloy MurphyAngela Molloy Murphy

Exploring Human Impact Through Art: A Glimpse into Three Unique Exhibits

Plastic City: A Canvas of Community Reflection

At the heart of Portland State University, an innovative exhibit titled "Plastic City" transformed ordinary walkways into thought-provoking landscapes. For an entire month, visitors witnessed an ever-growing accumulation of discarded plastics right in the campus's core. This installation wasn't just a display; it was an interactive experience designed to spark a dialogue among students, children, and the broader community about our plastic consumption habits. By confronting us with the sheer volume of our plastic waste, "Plastic City" aimed to inspire change and reimagine our relationship with disposable materials.

The Secret Underground: Revealing the Layers Beneath

Diving into the wintery depths of "The Secret Underground: A Glow World Experience," visitors embarked on an enlightening journey. The entrance to this winter lights exhibit came alive with projections of trash and discarded toys, masterfully crafted to resemble layers of human refuse intertwined with the earth's geology. This artistic venture shed light on the impact of our consumption, inviting us to reflect on the traces we leave behind on the planet.

A Journey Through Complex Ecologies

Further into "The Secret Underground," the narrative deepened as digital photos and videos illuminated the surroundings, unveiling the intricate ecologies that thrive beneath our feet during the winter season. This immersive part of the exhibit brought to life the interconnected worlds of worms, humans, waste, bones, animals, and crystals through speculative and fabulated ecologies. It served as a potent reminder of our entanglement with these hidden ecosystems, echoing the sentiments of Taylor & Giugni (2012) on the ethical considerations of our coexistence: recognizing our shared habitats and the humbling truth that our stories are part of a much larger narrative, not solely human-centric.

These exhibits challenge us to see beyond our immediate surroundings and consider the broader implications of our everyday choices. By confronting us with the physical manifestations of our consumption and inviting us to explore the hidden layers of our world, they encourage a deeper understanding of our place within the complex web of life.


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